Princess Louise and the Cascapedia River

A nineteenth century engraving of Princess Louise and the Marquess of Lorne. (Cascapedia River Museum Collection) Presenting a bouquet to Princess Louise upon their arrival in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1878. From the London Illustrated News (1878). (Cascapedia River Museum Collection) Princess Louise in Canada. (Cascapedia River Museum Collection) Princess Louise (centre) in a canoe. (Cascapedia River Museum Collection) An engraving of the 1880 Canadian fishing tour of Princess Louise and her brother Prince Leopold. (Cascapedia River Museum Collection) Lorne Cottage. This cottage was built by the Marquess of Lorne for his wife, Princess Louise, on the Cascapedia River. (Cascapedia River Museum Collection) Engraving from the London Illustrated News (1880), taken from a drawing by Princess Louise that appeared in the exhibition of the Society of Painters in Water Colours. (Cascapedia River Museum Collection) Princess Louise fishing from the banks of the Angers River, a tributary of the Cascapedia. (Cascapedia River Museum Collection) A princess' castle on the Cascapedia. (Cascapedia River Museum Collection) Princess Louise (second from left) dining at Lorne Cottage. (Cascapedia River Museum Collection) When they returned to England, the marquess and the princess wrote about their adventures on the Cascapedia in the Youth's Companion. (Cascapedia River Museum Collection) Princess Louise as a young woman. (Cascapedia River Museum Collection) Princess Louise with a guide on her verandah. (Cascapedia River Museum Collection) Princess Louise (left) and her companions taking refreshment. (Cascapedia River Museum Collection) Princess Louise and a guide, fishing on the Cascapedia. (Cascapedia River Museum Collection)

Princess Louise, who was the sixth child of Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert, and wife of the Marquess of Lorne, governor general of Canada from 1878 to 1883, first came to the Cascapedia in 1879 on a fishing excursion with her husband.

Unlike Ottawa, which was not to her liking, Princess Louise fell in love with the Cascapedia wilderness almost immediately. And she loved the sport of fly fishing.

Princess Louise’s interest in fly-fishing was considered daring for a woman at that time and would have been unthinkable if the princess had been living under her mother’s roof.

In June 1880, the princess and the governor general returned to the Cascapedia. They had purchased a pre-fabricated cabin in Quebec, and had it shipped down the St-Lawrence River and up to the Cascapedia.

While on the river, the party rose early every morning at dawn, paddled upstream to one of the deep, still pools of water that marked the river’s course and fished from their canoes. They sent carefully packed boxes of salmon to Ottawa and even to her mother at Windsor Castle in England. The salmon were described as having reached their destination as “cold, pink and perfect.”

larger_princess_louise_wonders_of_the_cascapedia-illustration_by_princess_louise_001.jpgBesides salmon fishing, Lord Lorne and his wife were greatly interested in nature and both were fond of sketching the landscape along the Grand Cascapedia. The patronage of this royal couple helped to establish the reputation of the river as, “the best salmon stream in the world.”

The princess was happy during her stay on the river and found peace in the isolated forests of the Cascapedia. Here in the secluded wilderness of the Gaspé she could be Louise, an ordinary young woman, enjoying the simple pleasures of life, which included sketching, painting and fishing.

Mary Robertson